Nivendra Uduman, Sara Nazoor and Ranil Thilakaratne has spent almost three months traveling Sri Lanka by foot. They have walked over 1,400 kilometers and touched more than half a million lives, all in an effort to erase the stigma and raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. On 12 June, they concluded the journey that began on 1 April 2018, returning home to Colombo’s Independence Square.
Back in Colombo, the trio was emotional as they reunited with friends, family and supporters who had gathered to welcome them back. This is the second such journey for Nivendra, who undertook the first Footsteps to Freedom journey in 2016 with colleague Hansini Gunsekara. What he saw during this first 550 km walk inspired him to retrace his steps and charter a new path around Sri Lanka to reach more communities and people, he says. The walk was held in aid of two charities working in the areas of emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention in Sri Lanka-Shanthi Maargam and CCCline 1333.
Nivendra, Sara and Ranil conducted over a 100 workshops during their walk around Sri Lanka. Nivendra is a counselling psychologist while Sara Nazoor is a trainee psychologist. Ranil Thilakaratne is from CCCline 1333, an organization that works primarily in the area of suicide prevention. With Sri Lanka reporting one of the highest incidences of suicide in the world, the need for better awareness on mental health is acute, they say.